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Advice... returning back to cycling.

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Dave G, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. Dave G

    Dave G pfm Member


    I know there are quite a few cyclists on PFM and I would like your advice. I'm returning back to cycling after almost 25 years away from the sport. In the past I raced at a reasonable level as an amateur both in the UK and Europe, but gave up due to illness and the need to earn a decent living.

    I sort of fell out of love with the sport for many reasons, but recently after spending some time to think about some lifestyle health related issues and the fact I need to do something about them, I have got back out on an old bike kitted out with some old equipment and I'm enjoying riding again. I'm enjoying it so much that I don't want people commenting on how cool my retro bike is, but I want to buy into some newer technology.

    Just to put things into context, the last time I raced I was on a 753 and Campag Super Record and this was considered the bees knees, and this is what I'm getting out on at the moment.

    So here is my dilemma. I want to ride to get fit, not to compete against others, but against myself and eventually to get into sportives. I love how cycling has moved on in terms of training methods and equipment (FTPs / watts etc) and I love the tech. that is an integral part of cycling. However, I am torn between going for a full on carbon frame set or to go for something such as a high tech. stainless steel frame.

    I have had the chance to ride a friends Look Huez and his recent purchase - the 795 Blade RS. Both bikes are amazing to ride over a short distance and are spec'd with Dura Ace/Mavic. I've not been able to ride either for more than an hour and to be honest they are a little too small for me. Although both are equipped with almost identical kit they both ride completely differently. This has made me realise how far bikes have progressed and how frame geometry and materials make a big difference.

    I'm very tempted to embrace all the new technology and go full on carbon. However, I have a sort of stigma attached to riding a fully specified carbon bike when I'm an overweight middle aged man.

    As mentioned I also like the idea of going high tech. steel and I like the look of a made to measure Stelbel SB/03. I always had made to measure bikes when I raced and always appreciated the "fit". Even if I went full on Di2 or SRAM with the Stelbel, it would look more traditional and would of course be heavier, not as responsive, but likely to be more comfortable.

    So, which way do I jump? Full on carbon and embrace all the new technology or steel with a bit of a retro vibe, made to measure with some a nice group set?
  2. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    It is only a thought from another older cyclist [somewhat lapsed for reasons we don't need to go into here], and I have two classic steel framed bikes from Raleigh [531 frame] and Carlton [501 frame], which oddly is lighter and handles even more nicely.

    If you enjoy your old bike at the moment, I cannot really see what benefit you would gain from buying into more modern technology if your competition is with yourself [mine always was] and not others.

    After all if the bike gives you pleasure, then it remains a constant as you build up your speed, stamina and resilience again.

    My Raleigh is a nice gentle non-speed machine that is great for an amble, while the Carlton is a bike that really makes me want to to go as fast as I can. Responsive, good handling and the right geometry for banks [very stable on the downhill too], and supreme on the flat.

    I have ridden better bikes than my nearly forty year old Carlton, and yet none gave me as a great sense of security and stability, whilst being extremely responsive to the effort that I put in as well, and with all it a lovely distance machine as well.

    My old Carlton is set up with a semi-drop, or moustache bar such as was common enough up till the 1950s, and gives a significantly more comfortable riding position for me now I am no longer young. The biggest issue is that I have many serious hills in all directions here! And the old bike's bottom cog is 42 over 24, which is not anything like a granny gear for emergencies. I am not too proud to get off it on the steepest or longest inclines. Lovely coming down the other side though.

    Gradually I assembled a complete [NOS and secocon but mint] Super Record group set on it, which some call over-kill for a 501 framed cycle, but all up it weighs 10 kg flat with a good set of lights, and Brookes saddle.

    I cannot offer advice on the latest bikes as the price puts me off, and I have not found one I could adore in the way I do my Carlton or Raleigh. The Raleigh has the strange but good addition of a Nito Comfort bar, which is alloy and looks much like the old steel Raleigh normal upright bars of years ago. The brake levers are consequently new as well, but the rest is originally fitted Shimano 105 [biopace cogs] group set, and it goes nicely. The Raleigh is six by two [indexed] gearing and the Carlton five by two [friction not indexed shifting] - both have the same overall range os ratios, but with different intermediate gearing.

    Best wishes from George
    Snufkin likes this.
  3. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    Carbon is about the ideal material to make a bike frame from, nowadays light, stiff and comfortable is standard. 10 years ago it was light and stiff or light and comfortable...

    We were at the Silverstone family cycling evening last week, there was a chap in full Ineos kit including appropriate Pinarello. This won't be you so don't worry about it.

    Something to consider is running costs, your lovely old bike will be at the least somewhat complex to maintain if you do lots of miles. You'll be scouring eBay for parts etc. Dura Ace is just expensive, if you run it through the winter there's a cost etc. I would go to a well known brand for a relatively entry level setup with Shimano 105, frame style to taste depending on your body shape now and expected. Then at some point in the future go for the luxury item of your choice for nice days and special occasions.
  4. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    You know, it’s a tough choice and only you will know. They both sound rather nice. In terms of fit, even a custom build is going to ask you what kind of stance you like. Is it head-down-bum-up TT, shoulders screaming after 45 minutes, or a relaxed tourer stance? Do you always want to ride the same bike? I recently had a big day on my “best” bike, a 2005 ally frame, carbon forks, 105, it was great. However for general mooching I use either my scruffy old MTB turned hybrid or while I am away in the week a single speed rat bike, and they are both great. The singly runs out of gears at about 15mph, I don’t care, I’ve ridden it 15 miles at a time and really enjoyed it, just as I have taken it to the pub on a great many occasions. I just like the fact that I can jump on it with no fuss, lock it up with a Poundland lock, and not give a toss. You choose.
  5. Ellenor

    Ellenor pfm Member

    If you live in a hilly area a nice lightweight carbon bike will be a lot more rewarding to ride. Down here riding up and over Dartmoor I found a big difference over my old aluminium bike.
    I found getting a Garmin cycle computer and using that with Strava really motivated me, it’s great to see how you improve as you get fitter and lighter. Be aware that it can become a bit of an obsession though
  6. Dave G

    Dave G pfm Member

    Thanks for the replies. Regarding the bike I'm riding now, its got almost mint Campag Super Record throughout and I still have some of the boxes :) so I thought I might sell it in the near future. I only started riding it to see if the "love" for cycling came back and it did. I've no intention of riding an old "vintage" bike for much longer.

    @George J I totally get what you say about not needing to buy into the latest gear, but I need to find something other than my old 753, as to be honest I'm not a 100% sure it is completely safe and I ditched all my other bikes when I finished riding, so I do need a replacement.

    @Paul R there is no way I will ever be the guy with full trade kit and an F10 - more likely to be the old fart with his old club kit on if I can ever fit in again! Great points about carbon having the ability be light, stiff and comfortable and running costs of older kit. The chances are I will go for Ultegra as I'd rather loose the body weight than spend so much on a Dura Ace group set and I can get it quite cheaply when I go to Asia.

    @stevec67 I really like the idea of having a second bike to just "bum" around on, pop to the shops or pub. Even been thinking of a single speed myself!

    @Ellenor - yes I live in a hilly area. I've just got to go out of my front door and I'm into a nice hilly countryside. I don't mind being obsessive and indeed I think I probably will get seriously into my stats. No sure I'll get back into things like carbo loading, if indeed cyclists still do this lol. I love the idea of Strava as a way of motivating myself.

    Still lots of things to consider!!!
  7. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Do it! Everyone needs a pub bike! It should be something that you have owned for over 20 years or something that you build from a stack of bits. Mine came from a Decathlon Trocathlon as a secondhand bitza with a few knackered bits, so I robbed the bits box for a spare chainwheel and cranks, lucked out with a magic gear so I don't need a chain tensioner, fitted a decent saddle and brakes, and I was away. Eu 40 and some free spare bits. It's done a few miles, the mostly knackered old CX tyre on the rear is now comprehensively knackered, I may end up spending as much as £15 on a *new* Schwalbe CX, or I may rob one of my old shed bikes for a tyre. I'm commuting on it at the moment, a whole mile each way. Ideal.
  8. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    Surprised Tony L hasn’t been on here to give his view of the wisdom, or otherwise, of carbon, esp forks. If you read of his experience of being taken out by a van on a roundabout, you’d probably think twice about carbon construction.
  9. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    753 and Campag Super Record from the mid 90s sounds great to me unless ....

    - down tube shifters - which are not a deal breaker, but definitely less user friendly than integrated shifters
    - gear ratios. If you used to race from that era you probably have 53/39 and 12-23 (or even 12-21 eek) - if you are a little heavier and/or moved somewhere with more hills these may not be ideal ratios.

    If the gear ratios are still good and you have the old Campag ergo shifters I'd be tempted to keep on riding the old bike until parts break and are not replaceable.

    I still ride a 531c 8 speed Campag bike from the mid 90s, but I switched to a compact crank to lower the gearing and it transformed the bike for me. Getting modern shifters to work with 90's Campag is unfortunately a fools errand (I did it - JTek shiftmate - don't recommend it), though old shifters are relatively plentiful and not too expensive on ebay (but who knows in what condition).

    Some parts of the UK are great for cross country mountain biking - perhaps check that out before getting a new road bike. It can be a lot more peaceful on bridleways and byeways than mixing with traffic and it still gets your heart going.

    I second the recommendation of a pub bike also. Mine is an old peugeot mountain bike $100 from Craigslist - almost indestructible and can leave it anywhere.

    Edit - should have read your replies. IF you ebay the mint super record it would probably almost cover the cost of a modest new bike (Alu specialized allez with 105 looks like a good deal to me). However I'm interested in your comment that your old bike may not be safe ? I would think it safer than modern carbon (there are so many fork recalls, and stories of carbon fork failure it gives me pause).
  10. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    No you wouldn't.
    HarryB likes this.
  11. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    If I had a bike of that vintage with little wear on most of the parts, I'd sell it someone who values that and get/build a newish carbon bike with an Ultegra/105 group to ride myself. If I was on a budget, I might get ultegra chain and cassette and 105 everything else and buy the best frame, forks and wheels the rest would stretch to.

    And, yeah, I'm also eyeing up the stuff that's left in my parts bin to build a pub bike. Can a pub bike have freshly serviced Fox RLC forks?
  12. Dave G

    Dave G pfm Member

    @sean99 yep down tube shifters, although Simplex as the Campag ones are somewhere in the garage, yet to be discovered. Yep spot on 53/39 172.5 cranks and 12-21 and even sometimes with a 11 for the crits (that I never used lol) or 12-26 for Fleet Moss or Buttertubs climbs (Yorkshire Dales).

    Now thinking compact set up as I want to actually get up hills.

    Yep just been checking out the Super Record on eBay and my pista track pedals with titanium axles alone are worth a bomb and I have 4 pairs of them, three pairs unused :) !! I'm pretty much sitting on a small fortune. Even my old Neuvo Record from my old cross bikes is worth quite a bit. A lot of the kit seems to go to Japan, so I'm listing ASAP.

    Update: Stelbel is now out of the running as build time is 6-8 months.
  13. Stuart Frazer

    Stuart Frazer pfm Member

    As long as you feel safe riding it, I would use your existing bike to get fit and consider the options as you enjoy that. You may decide it is all you need.

    If you do decide you would like a new bike, then maybe consider a gravel / cylo-cross bike - they give you a bit of everything. I would consider one, if I was to get another bike. My brother recently got a Ridley X-Trail with Carbon Frame and he loves it:


    The pub bike is a good idea - I have been thinking of doing similar. My main goto bike is a 2015 Scott Scale 930 29er with Carbon Frame. I'm frightened to let it out of my sight, so I cannot really use it for nipping into Town to do some shopping etc. That's the society we live in today.
  14. Dave G

    Dave G pfm Member

    @Stuart Frazer now you've thrown a curve ball at me. A gravel bike... this had crossed my mind. One bike but a change of wheels for different terrains, road and off road. However, most that I've seen appear to be 1x and I'm not so sure about 1x.

    I did see a guy at a local cafe with an OPEN Up bike and that was stunning and light.

    One decision that has been made is that I am selling my Campag stuff. Even with just the sale of my track pedals I'm well on my way to funding a bike.

    Second decision made. Pub bike to be built!
  15. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Built not bought. That's the solution.
  16. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Of course. How good is your lock?
  17. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Get a new carbon bike in the sale, plenty of offers at the moment, sell off all the old stuff & use the cash. Campag is no longer competitive, go Shimano with the new ultegra groupset. Use Strava as a motivator but most of all, enjoy it.
  18. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Is there still a Ribble carbon bike that uses an identical frame to a £4k DeRosa? I know that there used to be. Same factory, same carbon moulds, same raw materials, etc, but a different paint job. The Ribble came in at £1200-2k depending on what groupset and wheels you wanted, the DeRosa was £2k up. I'd love a DeRosa bike but I'm not prepared to pay £800-1000 for a paint job and a badge.
  19. doctorf

    doctorf left footed right winger

    I was walking through Leeds City Centre the other day and saw a Ribble Cycles shop. I had no idea they were on the high street.
    The bikes in the window looked fantastic for the price.
    If I ever went back to road riding I would be very tempted to buy a new carbon jobbie and sell my Colnago Dream, despite the Dura Ace groupset.
  20. Spiderous

    Spiderous pfm Member

    Some gravel bikes are 1x SRAM, but increasing numbers are using more traditional 2x group sets from Shimano

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